THE PATH Review: “Mercy”

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ends its second season with all the characters essentially in the same place they started and the question of which leader is best for the movement still up in the air. It’s a bit of a disappointment to finish the season only to see that nothing’s really changed. Cal is still the official leader of the movement, the fact that he’s the child of Mary’s baby seemingly still a secret to all but Sarah and Hawk. Eddie’s the chosen one, but he doesn’t know if he has what to take to lead, especially after he bargains with Cal to fix Sarah’s legal troubles. And Sarah could also still be the leader, if both Cal and Eddie prove unworthy.

The episode opens with a time jump. Sarah, Eddie, and Summer are peacefully living in an idyllic country home, with Sarah working as a waitress at a local restaurant. They haven’t completely abandoned Meyerism, as they still pray to the Light before meals, but they seem to have settled into a routine away from the movement. We learn that they fled to Canada after Eddie got tipped off by Abe that a judge issued a warrant for Sarah’s arrest. They’ve been on the lam for three weeks. Abe tracks them down, but he’s not there to get Sarah. He’s there to bring Eddie back to his band of deniers.

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Why does Abe do this? His reasons for bringing Eddie back are muddled. He tells Eddie not to mess with his case anymore, but if he was truly invested in bringing Sarah to justice, why not press Eddie a bit harder about her whereabouts? Or visit Eddie’s house? If he’s tracked him all the way to Canada, he surely must know where he’s staying. If he doesn’t care about Sarah anymore, why tell Eddie not to mess with the case? Abe seems confused as to what he wants, as evidenced by his conversation with Eddie in the car.

Eddie resumes his work with the deniers, but Cal, alerted to his actions by Russell, stops by to tell him to back down. Eddie’s secret rebellion isn’t so secret, which lowers the stakes and excitement considerably. Cal comes up with a plan to prove to Eddie that he’s not a true leader. He arranges for Libby DeKaan to pay back the people Sarah blackmailed, getting them to drop their complaints against her and therefore free Sarah of her legal problems, in exchange for not revealing the results of the water test. However, he will only does this is Eddie agrees to put aside his movement. Eddie chooses Sarah over his followers.

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As Hawk points out, Cal could have orchestrated this agreement without Eddie’s involvement. Cal just wanted to make Eddie realize that when push comes to shove, he’ll always chose Sarah over the movement. However, this test had no binding consequences. Eddie simply continues working with his followers, despite telling Cal that he would stop. Eddie gets the chance to choose Sarah over the movement for real, when Sarah begs him to run away with her instead of going back to the compound. This time, he chooses the movement instead of her. What caused this massive change?

Eddie marches up to the gates of the compound on Ascension Day, rattling the gates with the other deniers. Hank lets them in and Bill shakes Eddie’s hand, which gives credence to the rumors floating around the compound that Eddie may be the true leader. Cal has no choice but to accept the deniers, making a big show out of pardoning them. Mary, who in a complete 180 goes from lost girl in the woods to manipulative Lady MacBeth this week, tells Cal that he has do something about Eddie.

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The main question we’re left with at the end of this season is who will be the leader of the movement, but a better question would be why should audiences care? A power struggle between two, maybe three, potential leaders doesn’t seem that interesting when the thing they’re fighting over isn’t clearly defined. The first season tackled interesting questions about the limitations of faith and the nature of miracles. This season was more focused on the business of running a religion, turning the show into something much less engaging. Hulu announced today that they’ve renewed The Path for a third season, but whether there’s a whole other season of stories left for this show to tell remains to be seen.

TB-TV-Grade-B-

Season 2, Episode 13 (S02E13)
The Path airs Wednesdays on Hulu

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Jennifer lives for two things: spreading the “Superstore” gospel and themed “Law & Order: SVU” marathons on USA.
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